Mother bear killed after returning to Whitehorse

Conservation officers were forced to kill a mother bear when she returned to eating garbage just weeks after she was relocated outside town. The fate of her two four-month old cubs hasn't been decided yet.

Conservation officers were forced to kill a mother bear when she returned to eating garbage just weeks after she was relocated outside town.

The fate of her two four-month old cubs hasn’t been decided yet.

Conservation officer Ryan Hennings was somber when he talked about what happened Tuesday morning. It’s clear this was the last thing anyone wanted.

The sow and her two cubs were moved about two weeks ago after they were found rummaging through garbage in Copper Ridge.

Hennings said the family was relocated about 30 kilometres away, past the Yukon River.

That’s a shorter distance than usual, he said, but biologists were hoping that would make it easier on the young cubs and the river would discourage them from coming back.

They were wrong. This week the animals were back eating garbage at nearly the same spot as before.

A tip first came in at 1 a.m. Monday morning. The bears were seen in the Takhini North subdivision.

That afternoon a second call came in, this time from the McIntyre subdivision.

Around midnight Tuesday morning complaints came in from the Copper Ridge area near Winze Place and Drift Drive.

That’s the same area where the bears were initially caught and relocated from.

“She was willing to take her cubs this distance to come back right to this exact area,” Hennings said.

“It tells us A) she’s comfortable and B) how important this food source was to her.”

Conservation officers weren’t able to find the bears when they first went out, but at about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning more complaints from the area started coming in.

An officer went back out to look.

“When the officer was looking for her a resident opened his garage. That activity spooked the bear and it ran out of the backyard and around the side of the house when the officer was there,” Hennings said.

On two separate occasions the officer hit the bear with a rubber bullet in an effort to scare her off. But she almost immediately came back and started going through the garbage again.

“Because of the behaviour the bear was displaying at the time he was forced to put the bear down,” Hennings said.

By 5:30 p.m. both baby bears had been captured after taking refuge in a tree and were brought to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve for assessment.

Their fate is still up in the air.

These are wild bears. They no longer have their mom to take care of them. The wildlife preserve isn’t equipped to deal with them in the long term.

“The department’s veterinarian staff will assess their condition and we will make some sort of decisions about what condition they are in, if we can find them a care facility to go to or not, and go from there,” Hennings said.

There are really only two possibilities, he said. One is, provided they’re healthy, to find a facility that wants them.

“If not, they may have to be put down.”

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve does not accept carnivores like black bears, Hennings said. They may be able to hold the cubs for a short time, but eventually the babies will need a home Outside if they’re going to survive.

“They’re wild, they’re not going to want to be handled by people,” Hennings said. “So we’re in a tough spot, and it’s a tough spot we tried desperately to avoid two weeks ago when we relocated her.”

The incident serves as another reminder to residents to take measures to prevent bears from getting into garbage, said Hennings.

“This is a prime example of how quickly a bear can go down this road, and the lengths once they do that they will go to to return and continue this behaviour.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the RCMP’s traffic services team examine police markers on Range Road after a six-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near the Takhini Arena in Whitehorse on Oct. 25. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Six-year-old hit by vehicle near Takhini Arena

Police were called to the scene around 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 25

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. Two new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Watson Lake over the weekend. The cases are connected to three others in the community previously announced by officials on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two additional COVID-19 cases in Watson Lake bring total up to five

Individuals with symptoms and connections to the three other cases were tested over the weekend

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading